Yohimbine Weight Loss Guide

Yohimbine Weight Loss

Recently, there has been an explosion in dietary supplements claiming to help you burn belly fat and lose weight. And yohimbine is a popular ingredient in fat-burning products.

Research on yohimbine is minimal, and there can be extreme side effects. However, the fat-burning benefits outweigh the risks if you know how to use it properly.

For this reason, I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to using yohimbine for weight loss. So you can avoid the side effects and get rid of stubborn fat.

What Is Yohimbine?

Yohimbine is a naturally occurring compound found in the bark of the Yohimbe evergreen tree of western Africa. Traditionally, the bark of yohimbe was used as an aphrodisiac to enhance sexual performance.

More recently, yohimbine has gained popularity as a dietary supplement for weight loss. And it can be found as an ingredient in some pre-workout supplements or as a standalone fat-burning supplement.

When researching supplements, you may see some yohimbe and yohimbine on the labels.

Yohimbine Chemical Structure

Yohimbine vs Yohimbe

The main difference between yohimbine and yohimbe is the processing and potency of the resulting compounds. Yohimbine comes from the yohimbe bark, but it’s concentrated and standardized to contain a controlled amount of the key substance.

Yohimbe Bark Extract

Yohimbe bark extract undergoes minimal processing, making it sound more natural or healthier. However, it also means less precision in how much actual yohimbine you’re taking.

One study analyzed 18 yohimbe supplements and found wide variability in yohimbine content. In addition, the yohimbine content was inconsistent with the label claims for most yohimbe supplements1.

In addition, yohimbe bark contains several different alkaloids, which could cause adverse effects.

Yohimbine HCl

Yohimbine hydrochloride (HCl) is an isolated version of the active compound in yohimbe bark. In other words, it contains only the yohimbine alkaloid in more controlled amounts.

While this standardization doesn’t eliminate the risk of side effects, it does make the supplement more predictable. And it can help you get the proper dosage to achieve the desired benefits.

Yohimbe vs Yohimbine

Yohimbine Benefits & Uses

The main reason people supplement with yohimbine is to burn fat, particularly in stubborn areas. And there is some evidence that it suppresses appetite, making it easier to stick to a low-calorie diet.

In addition, yohimbe is used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction since it can help increase blood flow. And a scientific review of available clinical trials reveals that yohimbine is effective in this regard2.

Other uses of yohimbine include boosting performance and improving mood. However, there is little research backing these claims.

Benefits of Yohimbine

  • Burning stubborn fat
  • Treating erectile dysfunction
  • Improving physical & cognitive performance

Yohimbine Side Effects

Yohimbine supplement reviews can read like a list of side effects rather than benefits. The most common concerns are racing heart rate, nausea, upset stomach, and anxiety.

This list of side effects is not surprising given that yohimbine is a central nervous stimulant. That means it activates the sympathetic “fight or flight” response known to increase heart rate and blood pressure.

Other side effects are usually correlated with dosage and generally diminish over time. Most side effects are easily reversible when you stop taking yohimbine or decrease the dose3.

Common Side Effects of Yohimbine

  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Nausea
  • Upset Stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

In some cases, severe adverse effects were linked to yohimbe usage. However, the blood concentration in those instances was 100x more than the recommended level, and the individuals were taking other drugs and stimulants4.

Therefore, yohimbine is a relatively safe supplement for healthy individuals in the correct dose. And data suggests that the benefits of yohimbine supplementation outweigh the risks.

Yohimbine for Weight Loss

Many people purchase yohimbine dietary supplements to lose more weight than diet and exercise alone. And, of course, they want that weight to come from body fat, especially in stubborn areas like the abdomen, love handles, thighs, and hips.

Yohimbine Fat Loss

Physiology of Stubborn Fat

Like all supplements, yohimbine triggers reactions in the body through cell adrenergic receptors. And it’s important to realize that fat cells have two types of receptors: alpha-2 and beta-2.

Every fat cell has alpha and beta receptors, but one is dominant. The dominant receptor tells the cells what to do.

Alpha-2 receptors tell fat cells to store fat for later use. Unfortunately, this message makes it harder to burn alpha-2 dominant fat cells.

Conversely, Beta-2 receptors tell fat cells to break down body fat and use it for energy. So beta-2 dominant fat cells are easier to burn during diet and exercise.

For men, alpha-2 receptors are generally more concentrated in abdominal fat cells. At the same time, women tend to have more alpha-2 receptors in the thigh and hip fat cells.

You’re probably aware of where you have more alpha-2 fat receptors because those are the areas that are most resistant to weight loss. And it could explain why you’re not getting the results you want from your diet and workouts.

Yohimbine for Stubborn Fat Loss

Yohimbine is an alpha-2 antagonist, which means it blocks the message sent by alpha-2 receptors in stubborn fat cells. In other words, yohimbine tells alpha-2 cells to burn their stored body fat.

This fat-mobilizing effect of yohimbine is attributed to the increase of norepinephrine5. And studies have shown that yohimbine supplementation increases free fatty acids in the blood stream, which is an indication of fat burning.

Yohimbine Body Fat Mobilization

However, much remains to be learned about the exact mechanisms of action. So does yohimbine actually help you lose weight, or is this all a bunch of theoretical physiology?

Yohimbine Weight Loss Studies

Few studies examined the effects of yohimbine on weight loss and body composition. And there have been mixed results among the existing trials.

One of the most referenced yohimbine studies involved 20 elite-level male soccer players. After 21 days, the yohimbine group lost significantly more body fat than the placebo group6. Specifically, the yohimbe group lost 2.2% body fat in three weeks, roughly 4 lbs of fat loss.

It’s also worth pointing out that these subjects were already very lean athletes with around 9% body fat. So the fat they lost had to come from those last remaining stubborn fat deposits, which is what many of us want.

Other studies contradict these results and report no significant weight loss from yohimbine supplementation7. However, the complex nature of this supplement and the myriad of confounding factors could account for the opposite findings.

Yohimbine Dosage & Timing

To reap the benefits of yohimbine, taking the correct amount at the right time is vital. And this can be a little hard to figure out at first, given the limited information on supplement labels.

Yohimbine Dosage for Fat Loss

The effective dosage of yohimbine depends on your body size. Most studies used yohimbine doses of 0.2mg/kg body weight.

First divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get kilograms. Then multiply your weight in kilos by 0.2 to find your yohimbine dosage in milligrams.

For a 175 lb person weighs about 80 kg (175 lb ÷ 2.2 = 79.54 kg). So their effective yohimbine dosage would be 16 mg (80 kg x 0.2 = 16 mg).

The table below shows the exact yohimbine doses for various body weights. Many yohimbine supplements come in 2.5 or 5 mg tablets, so you may need to round to the nearest multiple. Or you can split the tablets in half to measure exact amounts.

Table 1. Yohimbine Dosage by Body Weight

Body Weight Yohimbine Dosage
130 lbs 11.8 mg
140 lbs 12.7 mg
150 lbs 13.6 mg
160 lbs 14.5 mg
170 lbs 15.5 mg
180 lbs 16.4 mg
190 lbs 17.3 mg
200 lbs 18.2 mg
210 lbs 19.1 mg
220 lbs 20 mg

Keep in mind, that yohimbe supplements report the total milligrams of bark extract on the label. So you’ll need to know the concentration of yohimbine in the extract.

In the example below, the supplement company reports that the yohimbe bark extract is standardized to contain 2% yohimbine. So 450mg of extract should give you 9mg of yohimbine.

However, studies suggest that the actual yohimbine content in these supplements can range widely, so you don’t know exactly what you’re getting. By comparison, yohimbine supplements only contain the active compound, so you have a better chance of hitting your effective dose.

Yohimbe Dosage
Yohimbine Dosage

When first taking yohimbine, starting with a smaller dose is a good way to assess your tolerance and potential side effects. Then work your way up to the effective dose over a few days.

This ramp-up is more prudent when taking other stimulants such as caffeine or pre-workouts. For example, you might start with 5mg the first day, 10mg the second day, and end up at a final dose of 15mg by day three.

Yohimbine Timing

The effects of yohimbine are partially negated by food intake due to the increase in insulin. Therefore, it’s best to take yohimbine in a fasted state or at least a few hours after meals.

In addition, studies show that taking yohimbine before exercise is the best way to capitalize on the increased fat burning8.

We also know that yohimbine absorbs about 10 minutes after oral ingestion9. And the fat mobilizing effects peak 1-2 hours after taking yohimbine10.

With this in mind, the best time to take yohimbine is on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, then exercise about 30 minutes later to maximize the fat-burning effects.

Personally, I set an alarm for 30 minutes before I get up to take yohimbine. Then I lay down until my last alarm goes off and perform my fasted cardio workout before breakfast.

Yohimbine Timing

Eating a protein-rich meal after finishing your exercise can offset the catabolic effects of fasted workouts, although it will turn off any remaining effects of yohimbine. Or you can continue fasting to take advantage of the fat mobilization.

Also, it’s important to consider that a 10mg dose of yohimbine stays in your system for around 6 hours. So if you’re taking multiple doses daily, you should spread them out every 5-7 hours and make sure you take them on an empty stomach.

Yohimbine FAQ

Now you know what yohimbine is, how it works, and how to use it. But there is still more you might want to know. So here are some short answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Does yohimbine increase metabolism?

Yohimbine may increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR) through thermogenesis. In other words, your body produces more heat, which burns more calories.

This increased energy expenditure could be one mechanism by which yohimbine promotes fat loss.

Yohimbine Thermogenesis

Can I take yohimbine every day?

Yohimbine supplements may be taken daily as part of a weight loss program. However, studies suggest that the effects diminish after 15 days of use11.

Therefore, it would be a good idea to take yohimbine for two weeks before cycling off for a week or two. You could then use other fat-burning supplements before retaking yohimbine.

How quickly does yohimbine work?

Yohimbine enters your bloodstream about 10 minutes after taking a tablet by mouth. A 10mg dose takes an average of 360 minutes (6 hours) to be metabolized out of your system.

The fat-burning effects peak 1 to 2 hours after taking yohimbine as long as you don’t eat any food.

Does yohimbine increase testosterone?

Erectile dysfunction studies do not directly link yohimbine and increased testosterone levels12. Instead, the observations suggest that yohimbine supports the α2-adrenoceptors involved in the modulation of sexual arousal13

Can females take yohimbine?

Despite being promoted as a “male enhancement” product, women can take yohimbine. In fact, many yohimbine clinical trials involved women.

One such study assessed the fat-burning effect of yohimbine in obese and non-obese women. Researchers found that a modest lipid-mobilizing effect was present regardless of whether women were obese or not14.

Therefore, yohimbine may be an effective weight loss supplement for women and men.

Is yohimbine banned?

Yohimbine supplements are restricted or banned in some countries. The main reason for this legislation is a lack of proper labeling on herbal male enhancement supplements.

Some products fail to indicate that yohimbe or yohimbine is an ingredient, yet they contain pharmaceutical dosages. This misleading marketing can cause accidental side effects or overdoses, which is why agencies seek to control yohimbine products15.

Is yohimbine safe to use?

When healthy individuals take the correct dosage, yohimbine is relatively free of side effects and safe to use. However, as with any supplement or medication, severe reactions are possible, although rare.

Problems arise when people inadvertently take yohimbine with other drugs affecting the central nervous system. Or when accidentally taking too much yohimbine due to product variation or improper labeling.

Yohimbine is not recommended for people with heart conditions since it raises blood pressure. And those who have panic disorders should use caution with yohimbine as it could increase anxiety.

Best Yohimbine Supplements

From 2015 to 2018, I used Twinlab’s Yohimbe Fuel as part of my fat-burning stack for bodybuilding competitions. This supplement contained 400mg of yohimbe bark extract standardized to 2% yohimbine. So two capsules provided 16mg of yohimbine, which is the effective does for my body weight.

While this yohimbe extract supplement seemed to help, I experienced unpleasant side effects like nausea, upset stomach, and cold sweats. These side effects were most likely caused by the other indole alkaloids and variation in actual yohimbine concentration.

Since then, I’ve switched to a yohimbine HCl supplement from Nutricost and haven’t experienced any side effects. This supplement contains 5mg of yohimbine HCl per capsule, so taking three does the trick for me.

Nutricost Yohimbine Supplement

Nutricost is a brand I trust for many of the supplements I use because they offer good quality and usually have the lowest price per effective dose. However, it may not be ideal if your dosage is not a multiple of 5mg.

There are a few other good options available on Amazon with serving sizes of 2.5mg, 6mg, and 10mg. So you should be able to find one to fit your needs.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, properly designed human weight loss trials have not been done with yohimbine because it does not have patent protection or commercial viability. As a result, it remains controversial and isn’t likely to be brought into the light any time soon.

However, that doesn’t mean yohimbine lacks merit as a fat-burning agent. The available data shows it breaks down alpha-2 fat cells, and plenty of anecdotal evidence supports its effectiveness for getting lean.

Therefore, this supplement could be a solution to unlocking stubborn fat deposits when combined with proper diet and exercise. Nevertheless, you must have realistic expectations.

Yohimbine is not a magic pill that will help you lose 30 lbs in 30 days. Instead, it is more likely to result in modest weight loss of 2-5 lbs per month.

While that may not sound too exciting, those pounds come from hard-to-burn areas in the lower abdomen, love handles, thighs, and hips. So if you’re struggling with the last 5-10 lbs of stubborn body fat, yohimbine could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Yohimbine Fat Burning Stack

Yohimbine can be a powerful tool for those unsightly pockets of fat. But it will not make a huge dent in your overall body fat or weight. So you might consider stacking it with other fat-burning supplements.

Some studies suggest that caffeine has a synergistic effect when taken with yohimbine. That means it could amplify the fat-burning effects and help you lose weight faster.

In addition, caffeine combined with ephedrine has been proven in dozens of weight loss studies to burn more fat while preserving lean mass. This fat melting combination is called the ECA stack.

But like yohimbine, you must know how and when to use these potent supplements. So click here to learn how to use the ECA stack safely and effectively.

Yohimbine Caffeine Ephedrine
ECA Stack for Weight Loss

If you found this article informative, please check out my other helpful content below! You’ll find interesting topics on all things related to supplements, nutrition, and workouts.

References
1) Sun, Jianghao, and Pei Chen. “Chromatographic fingerprint analysis of yohimbe bark and related dietary supplements using UHPLC/UV/MS.” Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis 61 (2012): 142-149.
2) Ernst, E., and M. H. Pittler. “Yohimbine for erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.” The Journal of urology 159.2 (1998): 433-436.
3) Tam, S. William, Manuel Worcel, and Michael Wyllie. “Yohimbine: a clinical review.” Pharmacology & Therapeutics 91.3 (2001): 215-243.
4) Anderson, Colin, et al. “Case study: two fatal case reports of acute yohimbine intoxication.” Journal of analytical toxicology 37.8 (2013): 611-614.
5) Lafontan, Max, et al. “Alpha-2 adrenoceptors in lipolysis: α 2 antagonists and lipid-mobilizing strategies.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 55.1 (1992): 219S-227S.
6) Ostojic, Sergej M. “Yohimbine: the effects on body composition and exercise performance in soccer players.” Research in Sports Medicine 14.4 (2006): 289-299.
7) Berlin, I., et al. “Lack of efficacy of yohimbine in the treatment of obesity.” Journal de pharmacologie 17.3 (1986): 343-347.
8) McCarty, Mark F. “Pre-exercise administration of yohimbine may enhance the efficacy of exercise training as a fat loss strategy by boosting lipolysis.” Medical hypotheses 58.6 (2002): 491-495.
9) Owen, J. A., et al. “The pharmacokinetics of yohimbine in man.” European journal of clinical pharmacology 32.6 (1987): 577-582.
10) Galitzky, Jean, et al. “Thermogenic and lipolytic effect of yohimbine in the dog.” British journal of pharmacology 104.2 (1991): 514-518.
11) Galitzky, Jetal, et al. “Pharmacodynamic effects of chronic yohimbine treatment in healthy volunteers.” European journal of clinical pharmacology 39.5 (1990): 447-451.
12) Guay, A. T., et al. “Yohimbine treatment of organic erectile dysfunction in a dose-escalation trial.” International journal of impotence research 14.1 (2002): 25-31.
13) Clark, John T., Erla R. Smith, and Julian M. Davidson. “Testosterone is not required for the enhancement of sexual motivation by yohimbine.” Physiology & behavior 35.4 (1985): 517-521.
14) Berlan, M., et al. “Plasma catecholamine levels and lipid mobilization induced by yohimbine in obese and non-obese women.” International journal of obesity 15.5 (1991): 305-315.
15) Pellegrinia, Manuela, et al. “Non-allowed pharmacologically active substances in physical and sexual performance enhancing products.” Current neuropharmacology 15.5 (2017): 724-730.

Share with your community and get the conversation started!